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Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
How to Build an Igloo on 01/29/2012 11:22:38 MST Print View

I recently wrote an in-depth blog article about how to build an igloo. It returned very positive comments so I thought I'd share it with the BPL community at large.



Sleeping outside in winter is cold. On top of that it gets dark early and campers often find themselves with little to do other than build a fire and sit around it sipping whisky. Don’t get me wrong fires and a flask amongst friends is a wonderful way to spend an evening but staying active is a far, far better way to stay warm. Some people choose to hike by headlamp into the evening thereby maintaining their warmth. Another way is to spend the afternoon and first hours of darkness building a snow shelter. Not only will building it keep you warm but sleeping in it can bring even the most frigid of temperatures up to a tolerable level.

Read more...

Dan Durston
(dandydan)

Locale: Cascadia
Igloo on 01/29/2012 12:03:38 MST Print View

Awesome Sam. Nice write up. I definitely learned a few things.

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: How to Build an Igloo on 01/29/2012 12:47:52 MST Print View

If I'm remembering correctly this took the two of you what 7 hours to make an igloo? Not bad for your first time!

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
How to Build an Igloo on 01/29/2012 12:53:34 MST Print View

There were three of us and it took around 8 hours. Two hours of that time was needed just to pack out enough snow to get a block quarry going - without that hassle it would have been quicker. We also ended up with a very large igloo which obviously required more time. With a little better foresight and with our new-found skills I estimate we could have a sleep-able shelter in under five hours.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: How to Build an Igloo on 01/29/2012 13:06:56 MST Print View

Sam ... Very Nice!

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 10:14:08 MST Print View

Very cool Sam, very cool. Sorry for that bad pun. ;)


So when are you going to get out and do a tutorial with your thrift shop 'Icebox Igloo' kit? I've always wanted to play with one of those and maybe pick one up for multi-person trips.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 10:36:26 MST Print View

Very, very cool Sam!

Question: In the photos of your quarry, it appears to rise up higher than the surrounding snow. Is this because you removed the surrounding snow so you could get to the sides of the packed snow?

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Re: Re: How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 13:47:40 MST Print View

We built this early in the season so had to first shovel snow into the quarry area. So what you're seeing is snow that's been piled up, packed down, then cut into blocks.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 13:50:25 MST Print View

Ah, thanks Sam.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 14:27:20 MST Print View

I wonder if I could build one of these with tumbleweeds........

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 14:35:25 MST Print View

"I wonder if I could build one of these with tumbleweeds........"

Don't be silly. Of course you can. You just have to wait for them to freeze.....

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 14:53:06 MST Print View

I seem to recall reading that polar Eskimos could build an igloo in an hour. They usually had good snow to work with. On the other hand they build the igloo using tools made of bone.

When making an igloo is essential to survive everyday conditions, I guess you get good at it!

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 16:09:44 MST Print View

Sam, nice job for your first Igloo, especially with the lack of snow you were working with. Its tough to build the quarry just to get enough blocks.

Here are a couple of suggestions to make it easier to build next time:

1. After cutting the blocks let them sit out in the wind for about 30 minutes. This allows the snow crystals to lock up and make for a much stronger block. This can be done while you are cutting blocks, just don't start building with the first blocks for the 30 minutes.

2. Make the angle of the top of the blocks steeper (angled toward the inside/middle of the igloo), that way you end up with a dome instead of a silo. After you get the bottom row in place go back and re-shape them as stated above. continue the steep angle all the way around.

3. I've had 6 people sleep in one the started out about the same size or smaller than yours. You build sleeping spokes, like a snow trench, evenly spaced around the perimeter.

Here is a excellent and fun old film on How to Build an Igloo It is the best one I've found. Especially watch the "little" things he does, it will make the job much easier.

Here are 2 spokes
Igloo Spoke1

The igloo can handle a lot of weight after they "set up". All these boys slept in this igloo, we used spokes. The 6th spoke was use as a tunnel to the igloo on the right. I slept in there with another adult. We used one entrance for both igloos.
Igloo boys

Edited by bestbuilder on 01/30/2012 16:15:46 MST.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: RE: How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 17:09:45 MST Print View

Nice job on the blog. Thanks, I learned a few times.

>"I seem to recall reading that polar Eskimos could build an igloo in an hour."

Practice, Practice, Practice.

But also, they have VERY different snow conditions. I've been to the Barrow and the North Slope a few times and know a lot of people who work there. They don't get a lot of snow because it's so cold, but the snow they do get blows a LONG, LONG ways. Like tens of miles, at times. Anything that sticks up - a hillock, a pongo, the AC store - gets a huge winddrift behind it. And, those snowflakes - having tumbled for miles - are very spherical and pack very densely. So all the shoveling, work-hardening, etc, that are shown in this blog aren't needed in the Arctic. I get those conditions at times at home, and you really need to be aware while driving that the winddrift in the driveway could be VERY solid.

Thinking of my beginner days, the tendency was not to slope inward enough, soon enough.

A few cautions: If you're near 32F/0C, snow is a bit plastic and will flow. Especially with heat input of human bodies and breath from within, it can start to sag over time. Use a ski pole or stick to mark a height and track that. I've woken up with the snow cave roof MUCH closer to my face come morning in the CA Sierra.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 17:11:26 MST Print View

The "sleeping spokes" technique is awesome!

Marc Eldridge
(meld) - MLife

Locale: The here and now.
Re: How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 19:09:58 MST Print View

This video has a section devoted to igloo building. I like the window.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaDVovGjNOc

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: How to Build an Igloo on 01/30/2012 19:20:20 MST Print View

Sam, I have a 4 page word doc on how to build and it also discusses the sleeping spokes.
PM me with you email and I'll send it to you.
If anyone else want a copy do the same.

Here is another shot of a spoke. I also use a cheap felt backed picnic table cloth. The felt sticks to the snow and doesn't slide around. This makes for a nice "dry" place in the middle of the igloo to change and sit.Igloo spoke

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Re: How to Build an Igloo on 01/31/2012 12:34:58 MST Print View

Tad thanks for all the links! I too like the 'sleeping spokes' idea! I think that concept would also work great for a quinzee!

If possible could you please PM the word doc about how to build an igloo? Thanks!